COURTESY OF HANZAWA STORE
Hanzawa Store is one of the oldest stores on Maui and continues to operate as a general store in rural Haiku. This photograph of the store was taken prior to 1974, when the structure burned and was eventually rebuilt to resemble the original storefront. CLICK FOR LARGE
Longtime family business takes stock
Hanzawa Store has served the community on Maui for decades
HAIKU, Maui » As Maui has changed, the family-run Hanzawa Store has evolved slowly, adjusting to a new wave of residents.
But it has never forgotten its ties to the agricultural and ranching community.
In 1915, more people walked and rode horses than drove cars to shop at their business in rural Haiku. "Those days, people didn't have cars," said Tetsuji Hanzawa's son, Ralph Hanzawa, who retired as manager in 1988. "We delivered to their homes, and when we delivered, they would give us a new order."
Ralph's sisters Betty, Jeanette, Jane and Myrtle have all worked at the store at some point, and Betty's daughter Sandra Daniells now serves as the general manager.
The general store, located more than five miles from the nearest shopping center in Pukalani, still sells gasoline and a range of other items, from blue jeans and denim jackets to sushi and quiche with a slice of kiwi fruit.
The 100-pound bags of rice that once were a part of its inventory have given way to lighter 20-pound bags, and while the store still sells Hershey and Babe Ruth candy bars and bags of iso peanut crackers, it also offers organic snack food as well as a wide line of nonpesticide produce from local farms, including organic walnuts and lentils.
"I think people are more health-conscious," said Daniells. "It's great to see people more conscious about eating healthy."
Daniells said store customers like the idea of supporting farms on Maui, and many of them are aware of the farms' practices. "They know where it's grown and who grows it," she said.
Community groups and schools such as Haleakala Waldorf appreciate the community-minded spirit of Hanzawa Store and its willingness to donate food or money to help in many nonprofit fundraisers.
"They're always been very supportive of the school," said Haleakala Waldorf official Konstance Palmore.
Daniells, a former registered nurse, said she enjoys providing a service to the community. She said she also is happy to work with longtime employees, quite a few of whom have been with the store more than 15 years.
Ralph Hanzawa said he likes the visits from old friends, including classmates from Maui High School.
The family business faced challenges in the early 1940s during World War II, when Tetsuji and brother Taichiro were interned without charges or trial, simply because they were born in Japan. The two were held with thousands of Japanese in internment camps on the U.S. mainland for four years. The U.S. government later apologized for the internment.
During World War II, Betty, as the eldest child, worked with her brother and sisters and other relatives to operate the store, which did a lot of business with the Marines who were encamped in Haiku while training for combat in the Pacific.
"Some of our relatives did the laundry for them," Daniells said.
Daniells said the family operated a kitchen in the back of the store where it cooked hamburgers.
GARY T. KUBOTA / GKUBOTA@STARBULLEIN.COM
Ralph Hanzawa and his niece Sandra Daniells are among the many relatives who have worked at Hanzawa Store in Haiku, Maui, a business once operated by Ralph's father, Tetsuji. CLICK FOR LARGE
She said the hamburgers were so good that some enterprising Marines bought scores of them and brought them back to the base to sell to other Marines.
Daniells said relatives wanted to run the store well so that Tetsuji and Taichiro would be happy when the two returned after the war.
"The family members had a business to run, and they just kept going," she said.
The store has continued to grow and make adjustments to new clientele, even as other, larger stores faltered and died after World War II.
Ralph recalled that in the late 1940s, the store opened at about 8 a.m. and closed about 5:30 p.m. weekdays. Now it opens at 7 a.m. and closes at 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.
The store was destroyed in a fire in 1974 but was rebuilt, eventually to look like the original structure.
Still located behind the store is the family's house and cottage.
Then there is the perennial presence of wild chickens that roam around the buildings and roosters crowing at all times of the day.
Once, a hen led her chicks on a visit through the store.
"We ended up chasing them out of the store," recalled Daniells.